What can I say? Should I say I’m a joiner? Say rather I’m so starved for human gatherings of any sort that I signed up for the government-approved plague destroyer/enhancer as soon as they stopped skin popping already immune first-responders and started to pass The Prick out to the Geezers, my current tribe.
I’ll spare one and all the inevitable warnings and pre-dying declarations about getting The Prick that will or won’t make you sick and state I am the master of my domain and I decide. Which I did. Together with the lame the halt the sick the blind the barely standing and the previously standing, I made my way to the new example of government overbuilding out by the old age homes of Chico.
The Palace of the Prick is staffed by all the Enloe hospital volunteers who have not been able to help out at the hospital over the last year since they all tend to be elderly by definition. It’s highly organized for maximum flow from the moment you hit the parking lot (one interrogation — “feeling sick or fluish, bozo?“), you drive to the next checkpoint (“Papers please! Can’t have any of those younguns trying to jump the line at this Grateful Dead concert.”), Sgt. Arms Akimbo shunts you to an open parking space, his corporal indicates the door into the Prick Palace.
The opening bell for passing out The Prick was scheduled for 11:00 AM but I was a smart old geezer and decided to get there by 10:00 AM to be toward the front of the line. I brought pastry, coffee, and a Kindle for the wait. But wait there was none. I also discovered I was not the only one to have the “Let’s get there early” idea by about three hundred people. No matter since the line for The Prick moved like the line for loading earthlings in that “It’s a cookbook!” Twilight Zone episode. It was laid out like those feeder lines at the bank to terminate at a table where another Enloe volunteer checked your information and gave you your “I’m Not Toxic” wallet card that also reminds you’ve got another Prick due you in a month.
At this point, you can see the Pen for The Prick in a room of folks in medical scrubs to your right while in front you can see the holding pen for apres le Prick so if you are going to go into anaphylactic shock it won’t be on Highway 99 at 70mph. Taking it all in from behind the starting line the whole scene looks like Bingo Night at the Square Dance. It’s so white you might go snowblind if you hang around for the do-see-dos.
After the info desk, you pass by another volunteer who gives you one of those “I Voted!”-style stickers that announce to the world “I GOT MY COVID VACCINE!” encircling a red heart with a highlight inside a vaguely blue shield outline. Then it’s time for your own personal Prick. The Prick Room is several tables and a number of Prick giving stations each signified by a star-shaped mylar balloon in shiny colors. I’m routed to a purple one where I take off my jacket and bare my shoulder for The Prick. A doctor appears and begins, with a bit of bedside palaver, to prepare my shoulder to take The Prick. I glance at his name tag and say, “If this turns out to have a mini-microchip inside it I will hunt you down.”
“Good luck recognizing me without this mask and we swap these ID badges all the time.”
He sterilizes my shoulder and then “Pop goes the weasel” and I’ve had my Prick. He reminds me to come back in a month for another Prick.
I shuffle out of the Prick Room and into the waiting zone where I am reminded to hang out for at least 15 minutes. From here I can look back at the 11:00 AM tsunami of geezers in the Chico Prick Palace. There I chat with a nurse who is taking a break from giving out free Pricks.
“Really amazing how all this and the melting away of California’s lockdown rules seem to be happening all of a sudden in late January.”
“It is. It really is. Might make you think that the timing was all political, mighten it?”
I am supposed to abide for 15 minutes but after 5 minutes the room gets so white and so old that I wonder what I am doing in such a scene so I split. On the way out of this old white geezer zone, I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a window.
“Oh. Right. I forgot.”
Okay (okay, okay, okay)
Just a little pinprick
There’ll be no more, ah
But you may feel a little sick
Can you stand up?
I do believe it’s working, good
That’ll keep you going through the show
Come on it’s time to go